❝ During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.
"On 16 April 1990, thousands swarmed into Wembley Stadium for a day-long event titled Nelson Mandela: An International Tribute for a Free South Africa. The running order featured such names as Youssou N’Dour, Neil Young, Simple Minds and Anita Baker – though compared with the main event, they faded into insignificance. Mandela was just two months out of prison and the fight against apartheid was still in full flow. When he took the stage, he was met with an eight-minute standing ovation that was only subdued by the efforts of the bemused longstanding anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. You can see it all on YouTube: Mandela and his then-wife Winnie happily taking in a great roar of love and support, which at one point segues into a mass rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. And then his speech: 30 minutes of characteristically measured oratory, punctuated by huge cheers that greeted just about everything he said. "The apartheid crime against humanity remains in place," he told the crowd. "It continues to kill and maim. It continues to oppress and exploit … Therefore do not listen to anyone who says that you must give up the struggle against apartheid. Reject any suggestion that the campaign to isolate the apartheid system should be wound down … The reward the people of South Africa, of southern Africa and the rest of the world seek, is the end of apartheid and the transformation of our country into a non-racial democracy." Given that in 1988 there had been a Wembley concert aimed at celebrating Mandela’s 70th birthday and demanding his release, the day felt like a righteous triumph – though that did not quite ease a tension that informed its wider context. Britain, after all, was ruled by a Conservative party whose more hard-bitten elements considered Mandela a dangerous untouchable and the anti-apartheid movement yet another leftist irritant. When the idea of an event in London had first been suggested, high-ups in the African National Congress had bristled: the UK remained "Thatcher’s country" – an accessory to apartheid, with a long record of opposing sanctions and backing the delusional policy of "constructive engagement". When Mandela faced the press before he went on stage, he tackled the question of a mooted prime ministerial visit to his country as follows: "We would regret it if Mrs Thatcher decided to come to South Africa, because that would give the wrong signals."
The Guardian: Nelson Mandela in Britain: hero, villain and international treasure
❝ We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.
On apartheid rule:
“We are extricating ourselves from a system that insulted our common humanity by dividing us from one another on the basis of race and setting us against each other an oppressed and oppressor. That system committed a crime against humanity.” — Speech in Pretoria upon receipt of a report from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, which investigated apartheid-era atrocities. Oct. 29, 1998
“Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.” — Address to the UK’s Joint Houses of Parliament, July 11, 1996.
On his opposition to apartheid:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” — Statement at the opening of his defense in the Rivonia treason trial, April 20, 1964.
On human solidarity:
“As the years progress one increasingly realizes the importance of friendship and human solidarity. And if a ninety-year-old may offer some unsolicited advice on this occasion, it would be that you, irrespective of your age, should place human solidarity, the concern for the other, at the centre of the values by which you live. ” — Lecture in Kliptown, Soweto on July 12, 2008.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” — Speech delivered in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
I was in Durham on August 29 to observe something unusual in this particular industry: a strike.